A variable plant, a number of subspecies are recognised[
Bupleurum trifoliatum H.L.Wendl.
Buprestis arborescens Spreng.
Heteromorpha abyssinica Hochst. ex A. Rich.
Heteromorpha trifoliata (H. L. Wendl.) Eckl. & Zeyh.
Montane form of the plant
Photograph by: Ton Rulkens
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Heteromorpha arborescens is a shrub or small to medium-sixed straggly tree growing about 3 metres tall[
]. There are few species of trees that bear sometimes simple and sometimes compound leaves, and this is one of them[
]. In the Cape many wild parsley trees have simple leaves, whereas those to the north tend to have pinnate leaves with three, five or seven leaflets. The leaves are also very variable in size and shape[
The plant is sometimes gathered from the wild, mainly for medicinal use.
Africa - S. Africa, Botswana, Angola and Mozambique, north to Sudan, Ethiopia and Yemen.
In montane and riverine woodland, in forest margins and in secondary regrowth[
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A plant of tropical and subtropical, fairly dry climates. Mature plants can tolerate some frost[
Once established, the plants are drought resistant[
A tincture, or an infusion, of the inner bark of the root is used as a treatment for colic[
An infusion of the root mixed with others is drunk to cure colds on the chest and also for one of the various venereal diseases[
]. A decoction of the root is used to treat shortness of breath, coughs and dysentery[
]. The root is also used as an aphrodisiac[
The main use of the plant is to treat abdominal pains and intestinal worms in children with an infusion of leaves used as an enema[
]. It is also used to treat nervous and mental disorders[
Smoke from the burning plant is inhaled to treat headaches[
Advantage has been taken of the large pith cavity of the branches in fire making[
]. A hardwood stick is twisted between the hands in a conical cavity in the Heteromorpha branch[
The timber is very soft and decays so rapidly that it is poor fuel[
]. The Xhosas people make musical bows of it[
Seed - easily grown from seed sown in trays kept in a shady area[
]. Water every second day and do not allow the sowing medium to dry out[
]. The seed starts to germinate after about two weeks, after three months the seedlings can be transplanted into larger pots[
Cuttings are quite simple, even though these may be lying around on the ground for a month or so before being planted[
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